Monday, August 31, 2009

Oh if only the Torah was the law of the land

If the Torah was the law of the land we wouldn't need tort reform because there are no torts allowed.
the laws of murder and capital punishment are so cleverly crafted to allow just the right amount of deterrent with the right amount of compassion and humanity for both the criminal and, what we forget these days, the victim.
And there is so so much more.
The impeccable balance which the Torah law follows is so brilliant and it was devised more than 3000 years ago.
And still is the best working thing out there.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Now here is a very nice conversation

My name is Blank Blank, and I'm a yeshiva bachur learning in New York.
I was on the internet and gathered that you give kosher certification to Vegan restaurants.
If this is fact, I wanted to ask you (if you have time) the following questions.

I read your blog and saw that this conversation may be easier for you if done by phone, but I was hoping that this email could serve you well for your blog. (also email is easier for me...)


Some people are concerned that the bedikas tola'im done by the workers of these establishments is not halachically sufficient. Why is their method for ridding the produce of bugs considered halachically sufficient?
First of all, every restaurant has an incentive NOT to serve bugs. No patron wants to eat bugs. And a bug served could ruin their reputation. Plus a Vegan place has even more of an incentive.
Secondly, I do inspect the way they check and clean for bugs on their own as the way an establishment checks is not inherently acceptable. But in the places that I certify they were serious about not serving bugs and the method they used was acceptable. I only requested a second rinse after checking and they comply.

Some people are concerned that there are bishul akum concerns in these restaurants. Why is there no concern for bishul akum?
There are 2 rules for Bishul Akum that for the most part exempt the foods served at vegan restaurants. The first, and this takes care of most things, is that whatever can be eaten raw is not a problem of Bishul Akum and obviously that takes care of most products. That primarily leaves beans and rice, and the second rule, that it has to be exquisite enough for a King's Table, takes care of that according to most opinions.

If there is no concern for bedikas tola'im or bishul akum, then why do these restaurants require certification at all?
Mainly the fact that grape products ie. wine, vinegar, grape juice, etc whereas they are still vegan, need special Kosher certification. Also, and I found this myself upon occasion, sometimes the owners don't realize that a product they purchased may contain a non-kosher or dairy ingredient.

Thank you very much,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pasha's Parshas is back - Deuteronomy for our lives

The cycle of the Torah Reading is significant. It is not an accident that certain portions are read at certain times of the year and that especially holds true for this time of Tshuva (repentance).
The book of Deuteronomy is one unit, dealing with one unit of time, one mission for our lives.
The book encompasses a unique and crucial part of our cycle of life that starts with the beginning of that book and ends with it's end.
Parshas Devarim is always read right before Tisha B'av and the last Parsha, Vzos Habracha is always read on Simchas Torah.
This tells us that from before Tisha B'av until after Simchas Torah we have one mission, one purpose in our lives.
And the Parshios of Devarim (Deuteronomy) are there to guide us week by week along this path.
Every Parsha is a step by step rebuilding guide for the Teshuva process which starts before Tisha B'av (not Elul or Rosh Hashana as we are led to believe) and ends with Simchas Torah.
This retooling is necessary every year to keep us on the proper path and allows us to grow and build from year to year.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Joy of a Bad Thing Stopping

Yesterday (Aug 5) was a little known but very significant Jewish Holiday, "Tu B'av". "the fifteenth day of Av"
It is compared in the Talmud to the purity and innocence of Yom Kippur.
But what's interesting is that NOTHING actually happened on Tu B'av. Rather bad things STOPPED happening.
So when something bad stops that is a real cause for celebration to the point that it allows us to reflect on ourselves like we do on Yom Kippur.
Sometimes we don't see anything positive happening to us so we get discouraged but really we have to see all the bad things that didn't happen and be grateful and realize how we are indeed watched over and protected.